'Moore's Revenge' is upon us and will make the world weird

When everything's smart, the potential for dumb mistakes becomes enormous

Earlier this year I lamented the inevitable death of Moore's Law - crushed between process node failures and exploits attacking execution efficiencies. Yet that top line failure of Moore's Law hides the fact that chips in general are now cheap.

So cheap that the cost of making a device "smart" – whether that means, aware, intelligent, connected, or something else altogether – is now trivial. We're therefore quickly transitioning from the Death of Moore's Law into the era of Moore's Revenge - where pretty much every manufactured object has a chip in it.

This is going to change the whole world, and it's going to begin with a fundamental reorientation of IT, away from the "pinnacle" desktops and servers, toward the "smart dust" everywhere in the world: collecting data, providing services - and offering up a near infinity of attack surfaces. Dumb is often harder to hack than smart, but - as we saw last month in the Z-Wave attack that impacted hundreds of millions of devices - once you've got a way in, enormous damage can result.

The focus on security will produce new costs for businesses - and it will be on IT to ensure those costs don't exceed the benefits of this massively chipped-and-connected world. It'll be a close-run thing.

It's also likely to be a world where nothing works precisely as planned. With so much autonomy embedded in our environment, the likelihood of unintended consequences amplifying into something unexpected becomes nearly guaranteed.

We may think the world is weird today, but once hundreds of billions of marginally intelligent and minimally autonomous systems start to have a go, that weirdness will begin to arc upwards exponentially. As @swiftonsecurity recently highlighted, utterly unexpected interactions now have potentially serious security consequences.

When that kind of weird becomes common - your car doesn't start because your dishwasher is throwing a tantrum – it may dampen our enthusiasm for the connected world.

We'll need new skills as IT becomes something more like "deep ecology", springing from an intersection of systems thinking and profound awareness of the computing environment and the sorts of smart things interacting within it. That is bound to confuse straight-line thinkers used to problem/solution matrices rather than the more nuanced gardening we'll need to keep a profoundly out-of-control situation from going completely feral.

And when it does go feral - as it will, regularly - we'll need specialists to swoop in, diagnose and treat our complexly unwell ecosystems. Those are the 10x types in our immediate future - not the rockstar programmers but the patient, insightful folks who use experience and intuition to bring clarity to the most obscure of problems.

With the recent VISA TOESUP* (plus Telstra plus NAB) we've seen the shape of a connected world that charts its own path, irrespective of our designs: Man proposes, tech disposes. ®

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